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"The Groundhog" and Helen Poetry Analysis

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Tani Sheb

on 3 March 2014

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Transcript of "The Groundhog" and Helen Poetry Analysis

"The Groundhog" and Helen Poetry Analysis
1982 Poem: "The Groundhog" (Richard Eberhart)

Prompt: Write an essay in which you analyze how the language of the poem reflects the changing perceptions and emotions of the speaker as he considers the metamorphosis of the dead groundhog. Develop your essay with specific references to the text of the poem.
"The Groundhog"

In June, amid the golden fields,
I saw a groundhog lying dead.
Dead lay he; my senses shook,
and mind outshot our naked frailty
There lowly in the vigorous summer
His form began its senseless change,
And made my senses waver dim
Seeing nature ferocious in him.
Inspecting close his maggots' might
And seething cauldron of his being,
Half with loathing, half with a strange love,
I poked him with an angry stick.
The fever arose, became a flame
And Vigour circumscribed the skies,
Immense energy in the sun,
And through my frame a sunless trembling.
My stick had done nor good nor harm.
Then stood I silent in the day
Watching the object, as before;
And kept my reverence for knowledge
Trying for control, to be still,
To quell the passion of the blood'
Until I had bent downon my knees
Praying for joy in the sight of decay.
And so I left; and I returned
Topic Sentence 1:

There is a tone shift as the perception of the body changes from seeing the corpse as the end of life and then as the beginning of death. The primarily concrete descriptions help develop the tone in the beginning, but as the descriptions becomes increasingly abstract the tone becomes contemplative. The language is harsh and the imagery is disturbing to the point of being gross at times.
"The Groundhog" (26-40)
; and I returned
In Autumn strict of eye, to see
The sap gone out of the groundhog,
But the bony sodden hulk remained.
And in intellectual chains
I lost both love and loathing,
Mured up in the wall of wisdom.
Another summer took the fields again
Massive and burning, full of life,
But when I chanced upon the spot
There was only a little hair left,
And bones bleaching in the sunlight
Beautiful as architecture;
I watched them like a geometer,
And cut a walking stick from a birch.
Topic Sentence 2/Paragraph 2
The seasons reflect the speaker’s own emotions and the state of the groundhog, an animal commonly associated with seasonal change. The imagery is morbid and is about death as well as loss, which to the speaker is beautiful. In the shift to the summertime, the imagery becomes a bit livelier which coincides with the season.
"The Groundhog" (41-48)
It has been three years, now.
There is no sign of the groundhog.
I stood there in the whirling summer,
My hand capped a withered heart,
And thought of China and of Greece,
Of Alexander in his tent;
Of Montaigne in his tower,
Of Saint Theresa in her wild lament.
Topic Sentence 3/Paragraph 3
The allusion to historical figures echoes the detachment of the speaker, and alludes to the fact that death equalizes even the groundhog and the infamous.
by Vera Guttenberger, Raysa Rivera, Shebati Sengupta, Stephanie Ward
"The Groundhog"
"To Helen"
"Helen"

Helen, thy beauty is to me
Like those Nicean barks of yore
That gently, o'er a perfum'd sea
The weary way-worn wanderer bore
To his own native shore.

On desperate seas long wont to roam,
Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face,
Thy Naiad airs have brought me home
To the beauty of fair Greece,
And the grandeur of old Rome.

Lo ! In that little window-niche
How statue-like I see thee stand!
The folded scroll within thy hand--
A Psyche from the regions which
Are Holy land!
"To Helen"
"Helen"
All Greece hates
the still eyes in the white face,
the lustre of olives
where she stands,
and the white hands.

All Greece reviles
the wan face when she smiles
hating it deeper still
when it grows wan and white
remembering past enchantments
and past ills.

Greece sees unmoved,
God's daughter, born of love,
the beauty of cool feet
The slenderest knees,
could love indeed the maid
only if she were laid,
white ash amid funereal cypresses
Main Points/Paragraph 1
(1) Tone:
-elegantly adoring vs. scornful
-poetic vs colloquial diction: poetic diction expresses beauty and romanticism while colloquial expresses discontent using harsh words
-the first is more personal, referring directly to Helen. The second is more distant, speaks for all of Greece.

Helen, thy beauty is to me
Like those Nicean barks of yore
That gently, o'er a perfum'd sea
The weary way-worn wanderer bore
To his own native shore.

On desperate seas long wont to roam,
Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face,
Thy Naiad airs have brought me home
To the beauty of fair Greece,
And the grandeur of old Rome.

Lo ! In that little window-niche
How statue-like I see thee stand!
The folded scroll within thy hand--
A Psyche from the regions which
Are Holy land!
"To Helen"
"Helen"
All Greece hates
the still eyes in the white face,
the lustre of olives
where she stands,
and the white hands.

All Greece reviles
the wan face when she smiles
hating it deeper still
when it grows wan and white
remembering past enchantments
and past ills.

Greece sees unmoved,
God's daughter, born of love,
the beauty of cool feet
The slenderest knees,
could love indeed the maid
only if she were laid,
white ash amid funereal cypresses
Main Points/Paragraph 2
(2) Form:
-first is more structured and consistent (5 lines per stanza, has clear rhyme scheme that gives a positive and classical view of Helen)
-second is more like a rant- lots of slant rhyme. The amount of lines in each stanza increase which reflect the growing feelings of distaste toward Helen

Helen, thy beauty is to me
Like those Nicean barks of yore
That gently, o'er a perfum'd sea
The weary way-worn wanderer bore
To his own native shore.

On desperate seas long wont to roam,
Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face,
Thy Naiad airs have brought me home
To the beauty of fair Greece,
And the grandeur of old Rome.

Lo ! In that little window-niche
How statue-like I see thee stand!
The folded scroll within thy hand--
A Psyche from the regions which
Are Holy land!
"To Helen"
"Helen"
All Greece hates
the still eyes in the white face,
the lustre of olives
where she stands,
and the white hands.

All Greece reviles
the wan face when she smiles
hating it deeper still
when it grows wan and white
remembering past enchantments
and past ills.

Greece sees unmoved,
God's daughter, born of love,
the beauty of cool feet
The slenderest knees,
could love indeed the maid
only if she were laid,
white ash amid funereal cypresses
Main Points/Paragraph 3
(3) Imagery:
-the first has very positive imagery: lots of similes, metaphors and allusions relating her to classical and beautiful things. Flowery imagery.(beauty, Nicean barks, perfumed sea, hyacinth hair, classic face, statue-like, Psyche etc.)
-the second is very blunt. LOTS of deadly imagery (white face, white hands, wan face, cool feet, white ash etc.)
Prompt
1994 Poems: "To Helen" (Edgar Allan Poe) and Helen (H.D.)

The following two poems are about Helen of Troy.
Read the two poems carefully. Considering such elements as speaker, diction, imagery, form, and tone, write a well organized essay in which you contrast the speaker's views of Helen.
Thesis
While "To Helen" by Edgar Allan Poe and "Helen" by H.D. are both about the renowned Helen of Troy, the first lauds her beauty while the latter criticizes its effects, by the use of contrasting tone, form and imagery.
Thesis:
In “The Groundhog” by Richard Eberhart, the language of the speaker mirrors his growing connection with the groundhog as they both approach a state of decay.
Difficulties with Analysis
The Groundhog:

- The Groundhog was a very dense poem, and at first we could do nothing but take it very literally. Descriptive details and tone shifts revealed another meaning to the poem.
- The seemingly abrupt changes in season threw us off, as well as the change in tone. At first it was difficult to decide where the tone shifted and how it related to the change in season, as well as the changes in the groundhog and the speaker.
- The allusions the author includes in the end of the poem seemed random and out of place, but made sense as we continued to decipher the poem’s meaning.

Helen:

- The rhyme scheme to the second poem was not
consistent, which made it hard to label
- We did not know some of the words in this poem,
which added some level of difficulty when reading
them for a first time.
- The different elements within the poem were not
immediately apparent and thus difficult
to compare and contrast.
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